If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in the Los Angeles area, you may be considering a few legal defenses. You may have heard that some states allow individuals to sue establishments for overserving alcohol. The laws that allow individuals to sue bars for damages arising from DUIs are known as dram shop laws.
California does not have any of these dram laws. Instead, you may find it better to contest the DUI with the help of an experienced lawyer. Retaining a DUI lawyer can help mitigate some of the fallout from something that may have been a simple mistake. You can get in touch with one of our attorneys by using the form on this page, or by calling 310-906-4831.
Dram Shop Laws
In several states, dram shop laws exist for individuals to sue bars for overserving individuals who go on to cause damages because of their intoxication. People who have been hurt by drunk drivers may file civil lawsuits against bars who continued to serve alcohol to people who were visibly intoxicated.
These laws don’t remove personal responsibility from the individual who was driving drunk. Instead, they help make sure businesses are held responsible for their part in providing additional alcohol to an individual who was already drunk. These laws impose civil, rather than criminal, penalties on bars for failing to cut a person off when it’s apparent that they have already drank too much.
Dram Shop Laws in California
California doesn’t impose civil liabilities on bars who over serve alcohol to someone who goes on to get a DUI or injure someone else. Under California law, civil damages caused by a drunk driver, under almost all circumstances, rest solely on the driver and not the establishment that served him or her.
However, that does not mean that bars in California are free to over serve alcohol to individuals without penalty. Instead, the law in the Sunshine State punishes bars for continuing to serve alcohol to individuals who are visibly intoxicated. Failure to cut off a person is visibly drunk can result in a misdemeanor for the bar.
What this means is that you cannot sue a bar if you get a DUI after leaving it. At most, you can report the bar for overserving you if you feel that’s what they did. However, you may want to consult with your DUI defense attorney before reporting the bar, as it may impact your own DUI case.
A Minor Exception
The one exception to California’s law barring civil suits against businesses that oversold alcohol to an individual comes when the individual is a minor. Without exception, any individual, whether as part of a business or not, who gives alcohol to a visibly intoxicated minor is civilly liable for the damages caused by the minor.
For example, assume a visibly intoxicated minor attempts to purchase alcohol from a convenience store. The store fails to check the minor’s ID and lets him or her purchase the alcohol. If that minor goes on to cause a car accident, the victims of the accident may sue the convenience store for the damages they suffered because of the store providing the minor with additional alcohol. This would be in addition to any criminal penalties the store would face as a result of selling to a minor.
Contact a DUI Lawyer Today
If you’re facing a DUI charge, you may not know what to do. You may have made a mistake, in part, because a bar continued to serve you alcohol when you were already drunk. While you can’t sue a bar if you get a DUI, that doesn’t mean you can’t raise a defense against a drunk driving charge.
A knowledgeable DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can evaluate your case and help you understand the charges you are facing. They will look at the facts of your case, as well as your driving history. A driver with multiple DUIs in the past 10 years faces a much harsher penalty than someone who has made a mistake and is facing a first DUI offense. Depending on the circumstances and the quality of your representation, you may be able to receive a less severe wet reckless charge instead of a DUI.
If you think you could benefit from having your case looked at by a competent DUI lawyer, contact us using either the form on this page or by calling us at 310-906-4831. Doing so will allow you to schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled lawyers who can help you deal with your pending DUI case. Your initial consultation comes with no out-of-pocket fees and comes with no pressure to retain our services.
Your best defense could come from acting quickly, so don’t wait to call us today!